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  • Writer's pictureTingbin Tang

When cart is used as an external memory

Supposedly, a shopping cart is for customers to temporary put in every merchandise before check out; however, it turned out that it is not just a shopping cart. Many customers have been using the shopping cart of a sort of wish list, to keep what he or she is interested in buying but not decided yet. In another word, the shopping cart has been used as a form of external memory, which allows customers to keep those items of interest and be able to easily access later on.


During my research, some customers claimed that he/she like to put similar items into the cart, so they can compare them before deciding to purchase; some customers like to keep frequently purchased items into the cart, so he/she can purchase again and again without make it a subscription purchase (even every time after making a purchase, he/she will add that item back into the cart again); some customers may like an item but do not have the budget for it yet; some customers like to put the items into the cart and then review it at night or on the weekend when they have more time, then select some of them to finalize the purchasing; some customers just feel interested or like the product but have not decided to purchase yet.

Current Coupang Cart

Actually for those purposes, e-commerce companies have already provided features like wish list, save for later, or my favorites; however, it seems not many users have fully utilized those features. For some companies like Amazon, every item in the cart will be checked out together, so for any item that customers do not want to check out, he/she will have to delete the item or move it to “save for later”. For companies like Coupang, it provides a check box, which means, customers can select what he/she want to purchase at this time and then proceed to purchase. For Amazon, it forced users to manage the unwanted items every time before making a purchase; For Coupang, the check box allows users to keep unwanted items still in the cart. Problem with this is that, some customers just never manage their items left in the cart, some customers even have left thousands of items in the cart.


Since Coupang organizes items in the cart by different sellers, which makes finding an item in the cart even more challenge if there are already too many items left in the cart. Another thing need to consider is that Coupang will only displaying 70 items maximum in the cart, so if today I add 2 new items into the cart, which belong to two different seller groups. But the first seller group has already more than 70 items left in it, so I wont even possible to see the second item newly added, since it will be beyond the 70 limit. So here comes one of my projects in Coupang, to redesign the shopping cart and solve this problem.


1. Approach I: Remove the check box and utilize wish list


There are many possible approaches I can try, the first approach is to learn from Amazon, which is, to remove the check box. Without the check box, users will have to make a decision and remove unwanted items or move it away to wish list. Of course, this approach has some risks, since customers have already get used to select and then check out on Coupang app, suddenly remove it will cause confusion. However, Amazon shopping is also popular in Korea and many customers have already get used to Amazon app, so I think it worth trying, after all the market of checking out without check boxes have already been educated by Amazon. So I designed my first approach, and conducted user testing to find out if customers will be comfortable with the change or not.


1.1 Move wish list to the cart

One reason that many users did not want to use wish list is because the wish list has been hidden too deep, that users will have to find it under my account within my profile. Now I move wish list to the side of cart, together with subscription orders, (which was already there).


1.2 Remove check box

The check box has been remove, so now users have to either check out every item in the cart or manage the items before checking out. They have the options to delete the item or move the item to the wish list.


1.3 Encourage recurring order subscription

Based on my findings during the research, some customers like to keep frequent purchased items in the cart, I also added a button for customers to subscription the product by number of daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Besides the buttons, users can also swipe to see the options.


1.4 Redesign the use of coupon

Another issue with the cart is that the coupons was just listed underneath the cart items, it was so hard to read, and users had no idea which coupon they can use for today’s shopping. With my new design, only valid coupons will be displayed. With color coded, users will quickly notice which coupon can be applied to today’s shopping and they can decide to apply them or not. Users can also see which coupon deadline is approaching, so he/she should buy related item and apply the coupon quickly. Hence the coupon also becomes a way to encourage more sales.

My Coupon Design V.S. Current

1.5 Visualize total amount receipt

For some reasons, Coupon also provide subtotal of each seller group, so there were too many prices and subtotals in the cart. To make the total amount of order more visible, I design it to be just like a paper receipt, by using this metaphor, it is much easier to understand that here it is the total amount of order.


1.6 Add recommendations to increase sales

At the bottom of the cart I also added a recommendation area with items related to encourage more sales. Only items related to this order will be suggested and prompted to the customers. If nothing in the cart yet, then it will be based on customers’ browsing and purchasing history. It utilizes the carousel interaction, and does not taking too much space, so it will not increase customers’ cognitive load and efficiency on check-out.


1.7 Provide easy management for the wish list

Items in the wish list means customers like them, and has an intention to buy them. So price cut, restocked, new coupon available, new promotion, etc. will be prompted. The new design allows customers to easily move an item to the Cart. It also allows customers to delete an item he/she not interested anymore. It provides a management tool for customer to manage items in the cart by groups based the time the item added. For example, customers can easily clear out every items stored over half year ago.


Above were my first approach, then we conducted a user testing with a prototype of this design. Just as I expected at the beginning, even though there are many Amazon users in South Korea, some current Coupang users still feel confused at the first sight. With the check box suddenly been removed, some users did not know what to do to proceed the purchase. For a company size like Coupang with millions of users, that is a risk that cannot afford. So I moved on to my next approach.


2. Approach II: Fold up and organize by time


So in my following approaches, I kept the check box. I looked into the data, actually 95% of the product put in the cart will be finalized purchasing within 7 days, for items left in the cart more than 3 months, actually few people will still check those items. With current 70 maximum item display, many customers also not possible to continue check those old items. So I designed some folders at the bottom of the cart, and organized them for items stored more than 3 months, 6 months, within a year or above a year. Customers have the option to quickly empty the whole folder or manage the folder items. If any items they feel like to purchase again, they can move those items back to cart.

For this approaches I have done two run of user testing. For the first run, the folders were put underneath the total sum receipt area. But seems some users did not notice the folders at the first sight. They just stopped at the receipt, and thought that was the bottom of the cart. Which I think was totally fine. Since as data shows, users seldom touch those old items, so I do not want the folders to disturb users’ normal check out. With the folders there, users have the option to check the old items but do not have to. Besides, it broke the 70 item maximum limit, offer users with the option. Which may increase conversation rate.

During my initial research, I found out some VIP customers (frequent purchasing customers) may check their cart several times a day, just to kill their boringness. So be able to view the old times, will bring them a lot more fun, and those items they had interest before may lead to a purchase.


Since some users did not notice those folders underneath the total cost receipt area at the first sight, the company had me conducted a second run of users testing, with the folders above the receipt. Now every testing user noticed them, and they understand what they suppose to be used for, and have a positive feed back. But the Korean are very conservative and very hierarchy in the company, the bosses review still have concerns, so I move on to my third approach.


3. Approach III: Automatic Move to wish list


For items left in the cart for quite a while, many other e-commerce companies have done other ways to deal with it. For example, Taobao or JD, they only allow maximum 100 items in the cart, so every time when the cart if full, customers will have to manage the items. For another e-commerce company in Korea, Wemakeprice, any items saved more than 7 days will be automatically removed. For company like ASOS, any items saved in the cart for more than 24 hours will automatically be moved to the wish list. I compared those approaches.


Taobao and JD have already educated the Chinese consumers, otherwise, to force customers to do cart management, and if customers have reached the maximum limit they will not be able to continue putting items into the cart, I really do not think that is a good way. It may cause some customers to just give up a purchase. For Wemakeprice, automatically remove those items is also not a smart way. Since customer have put those items into the cart, which means, they had an interest with those items, and it might lead to a purchase. For ASOS, they may think it is a good way to urge users to finish the purchase quickly. I am not sure if this really increase the conversion rate or not, I will need more data to support my judgment. For Korean consumers, with my understanding, they like to wait till the night or weekend to finish a purchase. Or some items they feel interested, but just like to put them in the cart to do a price watch. When the price dropped, or some deals/coupons come up, they will make the purchase. With all these in mind, I came up with my third approach.


In my third approach, I also moved the wish list to be beside the cart, since current wish list was hidden too deep and there were not many users using it. After checking with the data and statistics, I defined a rule that any items left in the cart longer than 15 days will be automatically moved to the wish list. This number has been change to 30 days later on after the concerns from big bosses. In the wish list, customers can move an item back to the cart. The wish list also provides price watch feature, so if any items has a price drop, or a new deals/coupons available, customers will be notified. In case they are too many items in the wish list, search and filter are also provided. With this new design, customers’ price watch needs get satisfied, their items of interest are more accessible and available for purchase. Conversion rate increase, and cart becomes more efficient.

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